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Identifying AGRRA Corals: Part 4 Branching Corals Judith Lang and Kenneth Marks Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program Revision: 2012-03-09.

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Presentation on theme: "Identifying AGRRA Corals: Part 4 Branching Corals Judith Lang and Kenneth Marks Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program Revision: 2012-03-09."— Presentation transcript:

1 Identifying AGRRA Corals: Part 4 Branching Corals Judith Lang and Kenneth Marks Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program Revision:

2 The following images are Copyright © by New World Publications and by other photographers. Permission is granted to use the photographs and slides in this presentation with the AGRRA Program and, with attribution, for other valid educational purposes.. All other uses are strictly prohibited. For images used in Part 4, our special thanks to: K. Desai, P. Humann, W. Precht, C. Rogers, A. Yniguez R. Steneck, M. Vermeij, E. Weil, A. Yniguez

3 Adapted from P.R. Kramer Colony shape – massive (= mound, columnar, heavy plates), crust, plate, branching Colony size range – small to big Colony surface – bumpy, smooth, ridged Polyp size – small to big Polyp shape – round, elliptical, irregular, Y-shaped, meandroid (= short or long ridges and valleys) Polyp colour – brown, tan, yellow, olive, green, red Septal shape – fat, thin; smooth, toothed Reminder: What to Look for Underwater

4 The stony corals illustrated here are limited to species that are found in the wider Caribbean at depths (<20 m) that are typical of most AGRRA surveys. The names of some corals are changing as a result of modern research. Expect updates! For each species: (number in m and ft = maximum colony size) Reminder: AGRRA Coral Species

5 Reminder: Coding Corals in AGRRA Surveys Use the CARICOMP-based coral codes. The coral code for a genus is the first 4 letters of its genus name. ACRO = Acropora Use the genus code whenever you are unsure of a coral’s species identity. The coral code for a species is the first letter of the genus name followed by the first 3 letters of its species name. APAL = Acropora palmata

6 Colony Boundaries in Branching Corals Branching corals are easily broken and scattered, thus colony boundaries are often indistinct. A. palmata APAL M. auretenra MAUR P. porites PPOR

7 Porites porites PPOR thick (>2 cm), branches, many with blunt tips elongate polyps often expand during the day light grey, cream, yellow- brown or blue

8 Porites porites PPOR polyps are alive only near the branch tips in large colonies (clumps to > 2 m/6 ft wide)

9 Porites furcata PFUR long, ~1-2 cm wide, “finger-like” branches, many with rounded tips grey, tan or brown (clumps to > 2 m/6 ft wide)

10 Porites furcata PFUR How differs from Porites porites: branches are thinner, longer, more widely spaced, with more rounded tips often darker colours (these are pale from bleaching)

11 P. porites P. furcata PPOR PFUR Which is Which?

12 Porites divaricata PDIV thin (<1 cm), short, widely-spaced branches, many subdivided near tip (“Y-shaped”) grey, yellow-brown to brown (clumps to ~ 30 cm/1 ft wide)

13 Porites divaricata PDIV How differs from Porites furcata: thinner, shorter, more widely-spaced branches, more often divided at tips smaller colonies rare on fore reefs

14 P. divaricata P. porites P. furcata PDIV PPOR PFUR © E. Weil Which is Which?

15 Complications! Some colonies look like “intermediates” of P. porites and P. furcata or of P. furcata and P. divaricata If unsure of species identity, code as Porites “digitate” PDIG

16 Madracis auretenra MAUR thin, fragile, near-parallel, and densely packed branches with blunt tips polyps often expanded by day (look “fuzzy”) cream, yellow or yellow-brown (usually to ~ 1.5 m/5 ft) *formerly called M. mirabilis, described as a new species by Locke et al. (2007)

17 Madracis auretenra MAUR clumps many meters/10s of feet wide occur in sheltered habitats

18 M. auretenra P. porites MAUR PPOR (pale yellow) (light grey) Which is Which?

19 Madracis decactis MDEC short, stubby knobs, crusts, lumpy crusts or short nodules distinct polyps, with conspicuous septa (usually 10/polyp) green, tan, grey, yellow-brown or dark brown (to ~ 15 cm/6 in)

20 Madracis decactis MDEC How knobby morph differs from Madracis auretenra: forms stubby knobs, not branches darker colours

21 Madracis decactis MDEC How knobby morph differs from Porites porites: forms stubby knobs, not branches septa are distinct (can be counted underwater) darker colours

22 M. decactis P. porites MDEC PPOR Which is Which?

23 M. auretenra M. decactis MAURMDEC Which is Which?

24 Madracis carmabi MCAR and Madracis formosa MFOR Both have thick branches with blunt tips 8 septa/polyp (to ~ 2 m/6 ft) 10 septa/polyp, perhaps a hybrid of M. formosa and M. decactis or M. pharensis (Frade et al. 2010)

25 Madracis carmabi MCAR and Madracis formosa MFOR How differ from M. decactis: thick, near-parallel branches, with flattened tips + from M. auretenra: thicker, more widely spaced branches Code as MADR if unsure of species identity Madracis formosa MFOR

26 M. formosa/ M. carmabi M. auretenra M. decactis MADR MAUR MDEC Which is Which?

27 Oculina diffusa ODIF short, somewhat twisted branches with large, distinct polyps yellow-brown, or may lack zooxanthellae (to ~ 30 cm/1 ft)

28 © P. Humann Oculina diffusa ODIF How differs from Madracis auretenra: polyps are larger and more exert (protrude more above the skeleton)

29 M. auretenra O. diffusa MAUR ODIF Which is Which?

30 Acropora ACRO All species: tiny (axial) polyps at the tips of actively growing branches are colourless (look white) lateral (radial) polyps are brown or yellow-brown (contain zooxanthellae) Acropora palmata Acropora cervicornis

31 Acropora palmata APAL large branches, cylindrical where exposed to waves can form large colonies (to ~ 4m/12 ft)

32 Acropora palmata APAL branches flatten in calm water

33 Acropora cervicornis ACER long, slender (1-3 cm), round branches (to ~ 3m/10 ft)

34 Acropora cervicornis ACER can form very large clumps

35 Acropora prolifera APRO a hybrid of A. palmata and A. cervicornis branches (0.5-2 cm wide) look like “intermediates” between those of A. palmata and of A. cervicornis (to ~ 1.5 m/5 ft)

36 Acropora prolifera APRO How “palmate” form differs from A. palmata: short branches don’t fuse into large thick masses smaller colonies

37 Acropora prolifera APRO How bushy form differs from A. cervicornis: branches are closer together, sometimes narrower, and more likely to have a horizontal orientation

38 A. prolifera A. palmataA. cervicornis APRO APAL ACER Which is Which?

39 Millepora spp. MILL How Millepora differs from the scleractinian stony corals: Millepora complanata tiny polyps armed with stinging tentacles that protrude from the small pores visible in colony surfaces

40 Millepora complanata MCOM narrow, upright lobes above an encrusting base yellow to tan (to ~ 60 cm/2 ft)

41 Millepora complanata MCOM A distinctive form of MCOM with short blades that often split to form narrow “boxes” is classified by some as Millepora striata (MSTR).

42 Millepora squarrosa MSQU short, box-like structures with thick walls, blunt tips above an encrusting base tan to yellow-brown with characteristic reddish, pinkish or lavendar tints (to ~ 5 cm/2 in)

43 M. complanata M. squarrosa MCOM MSQU Which is Which?


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